America Knits: Includes Patterns and Profiles

Overview

The most authoritative volume on artisan knitting
celebrates all the people in the knit-world continuum, from the animal and plant breeders who provide the fiber, to the spinners who transform it into yarn, to the dyers who give it its brilliance, to the designers and artisans who turn yarn into objects of unsurpassed beauty. In America Knits, you'll meet the country's most talented artisans and use their meticulous patterns to make ...

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Overview

The most authoritative volume on artisan knitting
celebrates all the people in the knit-world continuum, from the animal and plant breeders who provide the fiber, to the spinners who transform it into yarn, to the dyers who give it its brilliance, to the designers and artisans who turn yarn into objects of unsurpassed beauty. In America Knits, you'll meet the country's most talented artisans and use their meticulous patterns to make out-of-this-world garments for adults and children.

First published in hardcover as Knitting in America (Artisan, 1996)

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Editorial Reviews

Glamour
“Not only are the stories a great read, but the photos are so full of color and texture they’ll make your fingers itch to start your own scarf or afghan.”—Glamour
Vogue Knitting
“With a passion for textiles and a love of travel, Melanie Falick is the perfect writer for [America Knits].”—Vogue Knitting
From the Publisher
“With a passion for textiles and a love of travel, Melanie Falick is the perfect writer for [America Knits].”—Vogue Knitting
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579652876
  • Publisher: Artisan
  • Publication date: 4/28/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 989,504
  • Product dimensions: 9.02 (w) x 11.96 (h) x 0.61 (d)

Meet the Author

Melanie Falick is a writer and editor with a passion for the textile arts and travel. Her writings on knitting and other subjects have appeared in Travel & Leisure, Vogue Knitting, Family Circle Knitting, Piecework, Knitters, Fiberarts, Rowan Knitting Magazine, and Bon Appétit. She is the co-author of Restaurant Lover's Companion.
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Preface

I learned to knit as a very young child from my mother and my grandmother, then learned to purl from my aunt. I vividly recall the long, thin, pointy metal needles I practiced on, the yellow yarn, and the misshapen fabric I produced. In my mind, I can see myself sitting cross-legged on the floor in my aunt's study while she worked at her desk, carefully counting my stitches—which varied in number almost every row. I have no recollection of creating anything in particular, of even finishing a project during my childhood, though my memories of knitting are happy ones.

As an adult, I had several false starts as a knitter, but once I was knitting consistently, the idea for this book came to me quickly. I worked in publishing so I was, perhaps even more than most knitters, interested in seeing the knitting books available. I searched the shelves at nearly every bookstore and library I visited and noticed that the most beautiful books came from England, and that the subtle message communicated through the lack of lavishly illustrated American publications was that British designers were more talented than their American counterparts—that they were more worthy of this glorious treatment. Even though Kaffe Fassett, one of the most celebrated and talented knitters of all time and the author of the most successful illustrated books about knitting, is American, he has resided in England since the mid-1960s and his early books were published in the United Kingdom prior to becoming available in the United States.

Like most knitters, wherever I traveled I would look for not only bookstores, but also yarn shops or any other fiber-related destinations I could identify, including farms, festivals, and museums. What I found were some of the most fascinating people I had ever met, many of whom worked quietly and with limited recognition in their litte coner of the world. I decided to write this book because I wanted to celebrate knitting in this country, its richness and its diversity.

I worked on America Knits almost exclusively for one and a half years. In the beginning, I met with, talked on the phone with, and corresponded with hundreds of people—including yarn company owners, designers, artisans who create one-of-a-kind garments, gallery owners, farmers, and a profusion of nonprofessional knitters who are impassioned by the medium as well as by fiber in general. Slowly I began compiling the list of people and places I wanted to feature. It was important to me to link together the many different elements that feed into the knitting process—from the breeding of the animals that provide the fiber to the transformation of the fiber into yarn to the actual knit and purl stitches that yield the infinite possibilities that have been fascinating knitters for centuries. I also wanted to illustrate that knitting is not just a method of garment-making but also can be used to make powerful wearable as well as

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Introduction

I learned to knit as a very young child from my mother and my grandmother, then learned to purl from my aunt. I vividly recall the long, thin, pointy metal needles I practiced on, the yellow yarn, and the misshapen fabric I produced. In my mind, I can see myself sitting cross-legged on the floor in my aunt's study while she worked at her desk, carefully counting my stitches--which varied in number almost every row. I have no recollection of creating anything in particular, of even finishing a project during my childhood, though my memories of knitting are happy ones.

As an adult, I had several false starts as a knitter, but once I was knitting consistently, the idea for this book came to me quickly. I worked in publishing so I was, perhaps even more than most knitters, interested in seeing the knitting books available. I searched the shelves at nearly every bookstore and library I visited and noticed that the most beautiful books came from England, and that the subtle message communicated through the lack of lavishly illustrated American publications was that British designers were more talented than their American counterparts--that they were more worthy of this glorious treatment. Even though Kaffe Fassett, one of the most celebrated and talented knitters \ of all time and the author of the most successful illustrated books about knitting, is American, he has resided in England since the mid1960s and his early books were published in the United Kingdom prior to becoming available in the United States.

Like most knitters, wherever I traveled I would look not only for bookstores, but also yarn shops or any other fiber-related destinations I could identify,including farms, festivals, and museums. What I found were some of the most fascinating people I had ever met, many of whom worked quietly and with limited recognition in their litte coner of the world. I decided to write this book because I wanted to celebrate knitting in this country, its richness and its diversity.

I worked on America Knits almost exclusively for one and a half years. In the beginning, I met with, talked on the phone with, and corresponded with hundreds of people--including yarn company owners, designers, artisans who create one-of-a-kind garments, gallery owners, farmers, and a profusion of nonprofessional knitters who are impassioned by the medium as well as by fiber in general. Slowly I began compiling the list of people and places I wanted to feature. It was important to me to link together the many different elements that feed into the knitting process--from the breeding of the animals that provide the fiber to the transformation of the fiber into yarn to the actual knit and purl stitches that yield the infinite possibilities that have been fascinating knitters for centuries. I also wanted to illustrate that knitting is not just a method of garment-making but also can be used to make powerful wearable as well as nonwearable visual statements.

I tried to give the designers who created projects for America Knits a great amount of freedom so that their designs would be representative of who they are rather than who I am. Because I wanted this book to be warm and intimate, a reflection of how knitting fits into real lives, I made the decision to photograph America Knits without professional models. Whenever possible, I wanted to photograph garments on the designers or on members of their families or circle of friends, and in settings that represent the places where they live and work. Chris Hartlove, the photographer, wanted to shoot all of the photographs in natural light, which meant that we would be slaves to the weather and, ideally, would shoot only early in the morning and just before sunset, when the light was most beautiful. We traveled around the country together and, in the process of documenting the richness and diversity of knitting, spinning, dyeing, and animal and plant breeding, we documented the changing American landscape.

The making of America Knits became, for me, an important personal journey. By opening their homes, studios, and farms to me, the people featured in this book not only shared an important part of themselves, they gave me invaluable glimpses of--and confidence in--my own potential in many diffrent aspects of my life. For that, I am truly grateful.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about why we knit and talking to others about it. I have come to believe that knitting speaks to both an innate pleasure in making, and to a natural instinct to create something that is pleasing to the eye. Even though our world is becoming increasingly reliant on the work of machines rather than human hands--and speed and economic gain often seem to be valued over all else--the instinct to use our hands to create (however time-consuming that process may be) remains with us.

When knitters gather together, whether for a few hours each week or for a week-long retreat, they are making time for an activity they love as well as nurturing social bonds. Many a knitter I spoke to compared her knitting-group meetings to the quilting bees of yesteryear, to support groups, to lifelines. The vast majority of knitters are women. Indeed, knitting is "women's work" and has been for a long time. While it is true that men played an important role in the history of knitting, the practice lost favor among most of them--and, as a result, its prestige--when it ceased to hold potential for significant financial gain. Interestingly, just the fact that knitting is women's work has brought forth a recent wave of feminism within the knitting community. While the trend during much of the late twentieth century was for women to run away from many of the traditional female roles to which they were once confined, women are now choosing to celebrate--with pride--what they have always done: stitching the stories and emotions of their lives into textiles. And they are celebrating and enjoying one another, sometimes as never before.

The image of knitting within the general, nonknitting public is strangely limited. Somehow the overriding and misguided message is that if knitters had something better to do, they would. After meeting with knitters all over this country, I can attest that they are all ages and come from all walks of life. What they share is a common passion, one that invigorates them in good times and can even help to heal them in bad. What they create runs the gamut--some call their work fashion, others craft, others art, and some simply regard their creations as labors of love. To me, what is most important to understand is that the potential of knitting is limitless. It is my sincere hope that all who turn the pages of this book, knitters and nonknitters alike, will feel inspired in their knitting--and in their lives.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2008

    A reviewer

    I love this book!! Although, as the previous reviewer indicated, this is a reprint but I have always highly recommended it. It's a wonderful read and includes many very high quality knitting patterns. I've had this book for years and will enjoy it for my lifetime. A lot of the patterns are classics which never become outdated, but it's hard to express the beauty of most all of them as well as the book itself. It's always by my knitting/reading chair so I never have to go looking for it when I want to knit for someone very special. There is a large variety of patterns and techniques for everyone to enjoy as well as many of my favorite designers. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2005

    Be Careful With This One!

    This is a paperbook reprint of the 1996 book Knitting in America, not a new book! While it is interesting, keep in mind that it's nine years old and some of the patterns look a bit dated in 2005.

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